Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

LEAD Camp changes format


Camp goers participate in worship. Photo via OK Camps website.

What do people do and say that leads others to believe they’re a good leader? This is the question that led OK Camps to completely redesign the format of LEAD Camp, a week-long camp to develop leadership skills in both middle and high school youth.

“Leaders are not born but rather skilled at being effective leaders; skills, taken further, are observed and made better,” said Rev. Ed Parker, the executive director of OK Camps. “When people say leadership is born, we miss the amazing skills that so many people have, and we miss opportunities to learn from these people.”

The new structure will be based on “Learning Leadership: How to Develop Outstanding Teen Leadership Training Programs at Camp” by Michael Brandwein. The book, first published in 2003, examines skill development as a core component of leadership development.

“We identified 12 core skills and said these are what we’re going to work on, and if we focus on these, we’ll develop people who are better at these skills,” Parker said. “If we identify more, we’ll enlarge that portfolio, but we have to start somewhere.”

This year’s camp will focus on problem solving, teamwork, positive attitude, and relationships. Rebekah Hasty, the administrative dean for LEAD Camp, said the camp will focus on mentorship and interactive learning sessions.

“I want young people to come home from this camp and to have experienced growth, to have a wonderful connection with nature and relationships, and to have experienced wonderful worship,” Hasty said. “I want them to come home feeling enlightened and more self-confident.”

Parker said mentors will be trained to foster discussions among small groups in every situation, from camp chores to group discussions.

“I think the effectiveness of the camp will rise and fall at how well we foster discussions and relationships and discussion,” Parker said. “We are inculturaing a whole new cadre of adults and people to be a part of new learning environment. It will probably take about 5 years to inculturate our leaders to pass this on.”

LEAD Camp will take place May 30 through June 3 at Cross Point Camp in Kingston. Visit https://okcamps.org for more information.


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